The year 2008 truly is a year for change, both nationally and locally. Established in 1936, the Edgartown Firemen’s Association always had a gentleman leading the monthly meetings — that is, until recently.

Due to president Andrew Kelly’s absence, vice president Kara Shemeth picked up the slack and the gavel, carrying our February meeting into the history books. For the first time in 72 years, a woman was leading the meeting. In addition, Kara is the first woman ever to be elected to the head table. Congratulations, Kara.

This good apple doesn’t fall too far from the (family) tree: Kara is the daughter of our present chief Peter Shemeth and the granddaughter of the late chief Al Doyle. It’s no surprise Kara is making her mark with the Edgartown fire department — it’s in her blood! Kara is also an active emergency medical technician and a firefighter on Engine II.

She is not the first female firefighter to join the department, however. In fact, she is the most recent. Marion Harding was the first woman to join the fire department as a firefighter in 1973, followed by Pat Valenti, Sue Bettencourt, Rebecca Brown, Morgan Hauck, and finally, Kara — certainly a hard act to follow. Nice job ladies. Thanks to retired captain Dick Kelly for digging up this piece of living history.

Capt. Geoff Freeman and his crew served up a great dinner of boneless pork loin, mashed potatoes, mixed veggies, apple sauce, fresh green salad and warm dinner rolls. We all felt the heat from Chris Hargy’s spicy chili and Lieutenant David (Buck) Martin gave Morgan a run for her money with home-baked desserts of his own! Carrot cake, lemon cake and mile-high brownies were quick to disappear. Thanks to the ladder truck for a satisfying meal.

Dick Kelly led us in the pledge of allegiance and was quick to point out Kara’s achievements once this momentous meeting was under way. Special thanks to Joan Condlin, as she was acknowledged by Island Health Care for all her hard work coordinating their annual refresher class.

Rob Young made a motion that no New York Giants caps be worn in the building; all were in favor except for Captain Gundersen. Sorry Kevin, majority rules.

Get-well wishes to Chief Schaeffer and Morgan Hauck, as both are on the mend after their recent surgeries. Happy birthday to Lieut. Jim Craves of the rescue truck as he celebrates another trip around the sun. Happy anniversary to Elmer Vanderhoop and his wife Kate and to Sr. Capt. Charlie Smith and his wife Martha, as these couples celebrated on Valentine’s Day!

Remember, as an unknown author once said, “Hug a firefighter and feel warm all over.”